Welcome to Straight from the 'Beek, a place where you can get your Falcons-related questions answered. The Falcons are coming off a win over the Cowboys and will begin focusing their attention toward next Monday night's opponent, the Seattle Seahawks.
So let's get to your questions – the first one comes from Germany. Just remember that all opinions you see in this space are mine, unless otherwise noted.
Travis from Kaiserslautern, Germany
One week of relief for the fans and maybe one hour of relief for the organization. The offensive and defensive line dominated the Cowboy game and we finally got the playmakers the ball the entire game. Beek, I am not sure what the run/pass ratio was, but I got a sense that [offensive coordinator] Steve Sarkisian threw out that magic number and called plays by his gut. What do you think was the difference in the play calling? Thanks, Beek!
Matt: Welcome back, Travis. I think what stood on offense was the efficiency on third down and in the red zone. The Falcons converted seven of 13 third-down plays (54 percent) and three of four (75 percent) in the red zone. That's quite an improvement compared to the week before when Atlanta converted four of 12 (33 percent) on third down against the Carolina Panthers. They also ran the ball 34 times, held the ball for 32:06 but did have the one interception. That's a decent day at the office.
Jerry from Statesboro, GA
Hey Beek! All of the wavering Falcons fans that attacked you for trusting and defending the system, owe you a huge apology. The Falcons did the same thing they've done all season. The only thing difference was execution. We could have scored more but the game was well in hand. My first question is, do you think this game helped the team's confidence going forward? My second question is will Devonta Freeman play next week? And lastly, who played better the offense or defense? I say defense. Thanks for posting and responding. It's pretty cool for a fan to see their question answered for the world to see. Keep trailblazing!
Matt: First, thanks for the kind words, Jerry. I'm just calling it like I see it, bud, and sometimes people only see what they want to see (or read). Now to your questions. Yes, I definitely think this win helped the team – winning always does. But they needed this one (and so did you guys, the fans). With the win, the Falcons improved to 5-4 and keep pace in the wide-open NFC. Atlanta still has five of its six divisional games during the final seven games of the season, plus two games against the NFC foes Seattle and Minnesota. Plus 5-4 looks so much better than 4-5, doesn't it? Regarding Devonta Freeman, we just don't know much at this point, Jerry. We'll find out more for sure this week. Anything else would be pure speculation. As far as which side of the ball played better, hmm, that's a tough one because both the offense and defense played well. But I'll go with the defense because of Adrian Clayborn record six-sack day. The Cowboys were without a number of key starters and the Falcons did what you'd expect them to – take full advantage of the situation. And Clayborn did in a big way.
Bob from Jolley, Wyoming
Why don't the Falcons try out Brian Hill? In the preseason, he was running behind a secondary offensive line. And now that Devonta Freeman is out, he might be worth a look.
Matt: Hey, Bob. Thanks for the question. I think the first issue at hand is Devonta Freeman's health. Freeman left Sunday's game against the Cowboys during the team's first series and was eventually ruled out with a concussion. The team and their doctors will continue to evaluate him and make a determination as to when he can return. Right now, we have no idea of how long that will be. Without Freeman, the Falcons tallied 132 yards on the ground, led by Tevin Coleman's 83 yards and one touchdown on 20 attempts. Terron Ward also had nine rushing attempts for 23 yards – the bulk of those coming on a 17-yard run. Brian Hill is currently on the practice squad and he was an intriguing prospect coming out of Wyoming. He's a big back – 6-foot-1, 219 pounds – and was extremely productive in college. Hill ran for 4,287 yards and 35 touchdowns in three years at Wyoming. During the preseason Hill played well at times on special teams and offense, he ran the ball 26 times for 41 yards (1.6 yards per carry).
Matt from Alpharetta, GA
Beek, Dontari Poe went through the Cowboys' line like a locomotive at the end of the second quarter and cleared a 6-foot long tunnel for Tevin Coleman. Real Falcons smashmouth football! Who thought up this inspired play? The highlight reels don't mention Poe's blocks. Can you give us more background here?
Matt: Hey, Matt. Dontari Poe actually lined up in the backfield as a fullback on three plays, the last was a 1-yard touchdown run by Tevin Coleman – the play you referenced. Here it is again below:
Poe, who was signed as a free agent during the offseason, is no stranger to playing on offense. During his days in Kansas City, he lined up a number of different times in the backfield for the Chiefs. He can block, run with the ball and also do this:
Poe does a lot of things for the defense that don't always show up on the stat sheet – he creates pressure up the middle and can collapse a pocket, for one. Because of his size, strength and athleticism, he can clog up the middle and help limit the run game, too. And back to the athleticism – Poe can get to the quarterback, too. In 2013 and 2014, Poe had 10.5 combined sacks and he entered 2017 with 13 for his career. So far this season he has 1.5 sacks, notching his first one as a Falcons on Sunday against the Cowboys.
Charlie from Tampa, FL
Just finished watching the Cowboys vs. Falcons game and I don't have a question. I'm just saying, boy am I happy! Everyone counted us out for this game but we showed how dangerous our offense could be against what was supposed to be an unstoppable Cowboys defense. Seeing our running backs step up after Freeman was ruled out is a true testament to what this team's mindset is all about! So proud of my Falcons and I hope we can bring that prolific offense from tonight all the way up to Seattle. Actually, I do have a question as I'm writing this. Now that we only have Tevin Coleman as our main RB alongside Terron Ward, will we see them switching positions out as receivers just small routes into the flats and screens etc.?
Matt: Hey, Charlie. Mondays are always nice coming off a win – for the team and its fans. And you're obviously enjoying it. I'm not so sure I agree with everything you said, though. Not "everyone" counted the Falcons out. I don't think a whole lot of people expected the Cowboys – who were without two of their best players in Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith – to roll through Atlanta. And their defense is hardly "unstoppable." That said, it was a very good and much-needed win. To answer your questions about running backs Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward, no, they won't be switching positions. And if you watch closely, the backs in the offense are already used an awful lot in the passing game. It's a big part of what the Falcons do.
Kyra from College Park, GA
When I watch Dan Quinn talk, he talks about keeping some of the same things that we did last year and incorporate it into our plays now. Do you think it's time for them to move on from what made us so successful last season? It seems like everyone around us has changed except for us.
Matt: I'm sure you've heard the expression, "if it ain't broke don't fix it." I think the Falcons offense is working adequately well – and has been all season long, really – and on Sunday there was more proof that it should be left alone.
Benny from East Point, GA
Hi Beek. This Benny boy from East Point, Ga. Do you think it's about time for Matt Ryan to start making his own decisions at the line from a play change like other elite quarterbacks instead of running what was called?
Matt: Matt Ryan always has the option to call a different play (audible) or, if the circumstances allow it, call a timeout. It's not always as easy as you might think, Benny. Certain factors – like personnel groupings, time remaining, timeouts left, down-and-distance, field position, the defense, etc. – all play a part in his decision-making process. And oftentimes, he has to make those calls in a few seconds.